With responsive marketing, brands make waves in moments.
You can’t always plan for an immediate cultural moment like the Women’s March in Washington. But a Southwest Airlines crew swiftly, and authentically, added to the conversation — while setting the company up for a viral moment — by switching the interior cabin lights on one flight to D.C. over to hot pink. The resulting social media imagery wasn’t a planned branding moment. It was a clean, responsive event, that undoubtedly made an indelible mark on the women who booked tickets with the airline that weekend as well as those that saw it on social media.
The viral nature of culture and movements today means that brands won’t always have the time to plan a campaign. They have to respond quickly, they have to take risks and they have to loosen the reigns a bit, both in how they interact with consumers socially and in how they operate their companies. A Target store manager in Lancaster, PA, for example, activated a sensory friendly shopping event for consumers with special needs such as autism. For the event, which took place during the holidays, the store lowered its staff levels, dimmed the lights, turned down the music, and provided these consumers the ability to shop comfortably and at their own pace. The effort went viral, and Target’s public relations leadership was quick to acknowledge the store manager’s efforts, because it wasn’t a company-wide campaign.
One of the most famous examples of responsive marketing came from Oreo’s infamous social media meme tweeted out following the Super Bowl XLVII third-quarter power outage at the Superdome in New Orleans. “You can still dunk in the dark,” the meme read, and its simplicity and responsiveness resulted in a viral moment for the cookie — for an athletic event during which brands pay millions of dollars to capture eyeballs. And another responsive play: Bacardi, following the rain-out at Governor’s Ball last June. The sponsor hopped on social media to share in real-time news of makeup concerts and pop-up performances across New York City by artists whose sets were canceled.
Consumers, millennials especially, value brands that take CSR to heart — brands that stand for something. Taking into account this insight, coupled with today’s culture of immediacy, brands need to be creative and nimble enough to seize moments that, thanks to social media and the viral nature of news today, will leave lasting impressions on big audiences.